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Winter roads and distracted driving are a hazardous combination

Distracted driving can be deadly any time of the year, but it can be especially dangerous when paired with winter weather and congested commutes. According to a recent Denver Post article, winter weather contributed to an abundance of crashes in the Denver metro area Nov. 12. Although the article did not specifically mention distracted driving, there is a good chance it was another contributing factor in some of the crashes.

The Colorado Department of Transportation website states that distracted drivers cause about 40 crashes each day in the state, and 89 percent of the people who participated in a 2017 mail survey reported that they had driven distracted in the seven days before they took the survey.

A driver's eyes are off the road for about five seconds every time he or she sends or reads a text, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If that person is driving 55 miles per hour while doing this, the vehicle will travel the length of a football field in those five seconds. This is an even scarier statistic when you think that the distance might be treacherous due to weather conditions that make it harder to stop and harder to maintain control of your vehicle.

Although phones are one of the most common distractions, anything can be a distraction if it takes your eyes or your attention off the road. Other examples include eating, drinking, smoking, adjusting your GPS, adjusting temperature dials, reaching for something on the floor, putting on makeup and sometimes even talking to passengers.

Consider the following tips to prevent distracted driving:

  • Make all the necessary adjustments before you begin driving. This includes adjusting the mirrors, seat, steering wheel and temperature controls. If you have a new car, you should also familiarize yourself with the car’s controls before you start driving.
  • Use your radio presets to make it as easy as possible to change stations.
  • Ovoid multitasking. This includes eating, drinking, smoking, putting on makeup or using the phone while driving.
  • Keep calm as you drive. Avoid anxiety, stress, arguments and emotional conversations while driving.
  • Pull over safely, and take a break if you cannot focus on the road.

Distracted driving can have serious consequences, especially in the winter. By avoiding distractions, you can better respond to whatever hazards winter weather blows your way.

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